A Pearl of a Place

Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort offers clients laidback luxury

By: Andréa R. Vaucher

What could be better than running off to a fabulous five-star resort on Bora Bora? Instead, your clients could run off to a fabulous five-star resort on a private island facing Bora Bora, where the views of iconic and craggy Mount Otemanu from the over-water bungalows will take their breath away. Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort is that Bali Hai kind of place.

The water lapping at the hotel’s alabaster beach is the pale-turquoise color you’d choose if you were, say, Gauguin, and looking to paint the tropical island of your dreams. When the breeze blows across the lagoon at sunset, incandescent pinks and oranges are strewn over the sea like handfuls of tourmalines and opals.

A Leading Small Hotel of the World and part of the Tahitian-owned Pearl Resorts group which has eight distinct properties in the Marquesas, Tuamotu and Society Islands Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort has 80 rooms, 50 of which are over-water bungalows.

These accommodations have an enclosed terrace with Jacuzzi, private outdoor garden and, best of all, a ladder providing private access into the lagoon. Nothing quite banishes jetlag like a sunrise swim alongside harmless rays and peacock damselfish where the only sound is the water slapping against the pilings.

The bungalows have glass-bottomed bedside and coffee tables, a feature fast becoming ubiquitous throughout the islands, allowing guests to ogle an assortment of colorful aquatic creatures below their living space like snorkeling without getting wet.

The variety of marine life at the resort is remarkable because of the hotel’s commitment to preserving Bora Bora’s ecology. Protecting the environment has become a major initiative throughout the island in response to the building boom over the past decade and the deterioration of the lagoon’s barrier reef with the increase in divers and boat traffic.

The preservation project, which includes the implantation of new coral colonies, has attracted 65 different species of fish, and an additional 200 fish were recently flown in from nearby Rangiroa. To learn more, hotel guests can snorkel through the new reefs, accompanied by a resident marine biologist.

Other activities include windsurfing, kayaking, scuba diving, a luxury catamaran for lagoon cruises, excursions to feed sharks and stingrays, an aqua safari and a Jet Ski-guided island tour. Back on land, a spa will open in April.

The hotel operates a shuttle to Bora Bora, where clients can experience Tahitian “city” life and explore locally run restaurants, bars and shops. But after a few days, the only activity your clients will be indulging in besides lying on a chaise under a palm tree or floating in the lagoon will be drying off before moseying over to the hotel’s Tevairoa restaurant for a sumptuous French lunch.


An Affordable Alternative

At the Maitai Polynesia Bora Bora an over-water bungalow costs clients less than half of what it would at the five-star resorts dotting the lagoon. While it won’t be air-conditioned, the breeze is sufficient most of the year.

Owner Pauline Youssef, the head of the island’s environmental protection association, is also a local legend. Born on the island, Youssef crossed the Pacific to seek her fortune in the hotel business in New Caledonia. Twenty years later, she returned home.

Like many natives, Youssef’s family refused to sell their land to foreign developers. Instead, Youssef partnered with the Polynesian hotel group Mai-tai to establish the charming property. If guests seek out Youssef and her sons, who run the hotel’s watersports activities and land excursions, they’ll see the face of Bora Bora known only to Tahitians.


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